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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Here’s who’s who and what’s freaky about them in American Horror Story: Freak Show

Illustration for article titled Here’s who’s who and what’s freaky about them in American Horror Story: Freak Show

After months of press releases about the actors set to star in American Horror Story: Freak Show, Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV Preview has a guide to the characters who will populate Ryan Murphy’s spooky Jupiter, Florida freak show. Most of them can be glimpsed in the show’s trailer and its official cast photo, and here’s a full rundown of what we know so far:

  • Jessica Lange will play former German cabaret star Elsa Mars who is the manipulative leader of the troupe. Lange emphasizes that Elsa actually does love the members of the troupe “in her own selfish narcissistic way.” The show will feature flashbacks to her youth in Germany in the 1930s.
  • Sarah Paulson will play conjoined twins Bette and Dot who each have distinct personalities that don’t just break down into good and evil. Elsa brings the girls into the troupe to try to combat her show’s waning popularity.
  • Kathy Bates will play a bearded lady named Ethel who helps Elsa run the camp while pining for her glory days in the 1920s and ’30s (in other words, expect a flashback). Ethel’s career stalled when she had a baby and became a “down-and-out drunk” until Elsa rescued her. Creator Ryan Murphy describes Ethel as “the guardian of the law.”
  • Evan Peters will play Ethel’s son Jimmy, a boy with lobster-like hands.
  • Michael Chiklis will play Dell Toledo, Ethel’s ex-husband and Jimmy’s father. He’s a strongman on the run from the law who returns to the freak show and shakes up Jimmy’s alpha male status.
  • Angela Bassett will play Dell’s new wife Desiree Dupree, a woman born with three breasts. According to Paulson, the Oscar-nominated Bassett loved to flash her three-breasted prosthetic and shout, “Look at my three boobs!”
  • John Carroll Lynch will play the show’s antagonist, Twisty the Clown. Twisty is a murderer who retired to Jupiter and isn’t pleased with the freak show’s arrival. According to Murphy, “He’s out to make their lives a living hell.” Murphy also promises that Twisty’s lower face mask hides a terrifying deformity that will be revealed at some point during the season.

Rounding out the cast are Gabourey Sidibe as a socialite, Patti LaBelle as her MIA mother, Frances Conroy as a wealthy woman with a missing son (Finn Whitrock), and Emma Roberts and Denis O’Hare as con artists. Wes Bentley, meanwhile, will show up in a two-part Halloween episode as Edward Mordrake, a man with two faces—one of which forces him to do evil things. Murphy has also cast Matt Bomer as a “very warped” character for a one episode guest appearance, while Jyoti Amge, the world’s shortest woman, will also play a member of the troupe.

The show premieres on October 8. Until then, we recommend practicing the welcoming chant from Freaks.